Important changes to council tax support 2019/20

Local council tax support 2019/20

Council tax support is provided to around 6,000 households in Cheltenham at an annual cost of just under £6m. This includes working and pension age claimants. Approximately 60% of these households are of working age. The cost of the council tax support scheme is met by this council and the precepting authorities which are the county council and the police.

From April 2013, councils became responsible for designing their own local council tax support (CTS) scheme for working age people only. Council tax support for pensioners was not localised and continues to be provided for by a national scheme.

Since 2013/14 the funding received from central government to support the local working age scheme has continued to reduce in line with the other central funding cuts and is expected to continue to reduce over the coming years. To date, Cheltenham Borough Council has not amended its local council tax support scheme to reflect this reduced funding and has so far not increased the contribution that people receiving help must make towards their council tax bills.

What is local council tax support?

Council tax support is a council tax discount and if awarded it will reduce a person’s council tax payments. Any person who is liable for council tax can apply. The level of discount awarded is based on the income and capital the claimant and partner has, whether they have dependent children or other grown ups living in the household, referred to as non dependants. Other factors such as certain expenses to assist with childcare payments, disabilities and whether a person falls into a group considered to need more support is also taken into consideration.

Why is a change to the council tax support scheme being introduced?

Each year the council has to decide whether to make changes to the administration of its council tax support scheme for working age applicants in the borough. This year we have consulted on changes that could be made to the scheme from 1 April 2019. As previously mentioned, the council, and precepting authorities are facing funding cuts year on year. We also need to modernise and make changes to the current scheme so that it works together with the changes that are being made at a national level with the introduction of Universal Credit. People who have made the transition to Universal Credit have their entitlement to this recalculated each month, taking into account any fluctuations in income. As Universal Credit is income for the purposes of council tax support, a change also has to be made to the person’s council tax support. This then results in revised changes to council tax instalments every month which can make budgeting very difficult for those customers.

Cheltenham became a full Universal Credit area in January 2018 and as more people claim Universal Credit or transfer to it, the need to revise the council tax support scheme and simplify the administration, make the claiming process easier and simpler becomes more pressing.

Who will be affected by any changes?

It is important to note that any changes to council tax support will not affect pensioners. These people are protected and their council tax support will continue to be awarded on the basis of the scheme prescribed by central government.

The changes will apply to working age people only who currently receive council tax support or apply in the future for help to have their council tax discounted. There will be no protection for working age people and the new scheme will apply without exception from 1 April 2019.

What are the next steps?

Following approval of the council tax support scheme by full council on 10 December 2018, the revenues and benefits team will contact customers to advise them if they are likely to be affected by the changes from 1 April 2019.

View the the council tax support scheme summary and the council tax support full report.

For more information about council tax support please either: